What You Missed At The Record Show


Like five cups left out where someone put a teabag in and then discovered the hotel’s complementary coffee and tea service didn’t include hot water, just two kinds of regular coffee. Also one full cup of coffee-tea hybrid abandoned after two sips.

Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in the five dollar bin.

Oh wow this is totally Paul McCartney’s most embarrassing 80s single.

The greatest hits of the Beatles, 1962 – 1964, rendered by early computer synthesizer.

The daily high temperatures for Schenectady, New York, from the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58, rendered as a waltz, as the first album my hand even touched and I wasn’t even trying to make something like this happen. How does this happen? How does this keep happening? $3 and the woman selling it marked it down to $2 before I even said anything and then suggested if I wanted all four copies I could have them for five bucks.

Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in the dollar bin.

Wait, how could Allan Sherman have done a riff on the theme to Saturday Night Fever? Is that even possible? Can someone check?

The greatest hits of the Beatles, 1962 – 1965, rendered on xylophones.

Two guys trying to walk back the “White Disco Sucks” label on a Bee Gees album when the customer admitted to liking it although of course not so much as their pre-disco stuff.

Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in the two dollar bin.

A disco cover of the themes to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, The Great Race, and Gone With The Wind.

The Belchertown (Massachusetts) Savings Bank 1968 gift to its listeners of select favorite memories from the golden age of radio … oh, I get it, they’re saving these precious memories, that makes thematic sense as a tie-in and oh that’s a lot of Amos and Andy to put on one record but at least they break it up with … good grief Life with Luigi? Was all the non-ethnic-humor stuff from old-time radio unavailable somehow?

The greatest hits of the Beatles, 1963 – 1965, rendered by a string quartet.

That table with all the concert video DVDs that couldn’t look more sketchy if he were underneath a giant flickering neon sign reading “SCAMMER” although hey, he’s got the whole Woodstock ’99 concert this says.

A box just labelled “prog rock” next to two boxes just labelled “Beatles”.

The great news events of 1944 as reported by Morse Code international transmission.

The Who’s Tommy sung by an all-twee children’s chorus for some reason.

An ever-growing bundle of people arguing over what was the best Kinks concept album, splitting off an argument about what was the best concept versus what was the best rendition of that concept, all united by the belief that more people ought to listen to Arthur.

Gene Pitney’s She’s a Heartbreaker, which on the cover explains it includes Gene Pitney’s hit She’s a Heartbreaker, which at least gets one thing clear and understandable in this confusing world.

No, no, this is totally Paul McCartney’s most embarrassing 80s single.

A read-along story cassette book for 3-2-1 Contact? I totally need this except by any reasonable definition of “Need” but look how much of the book is the Bloodhound Gang.

Kid whose family was at the hotel wandering in from the swimming pool to stare at the records and then leave without making eye contact with anyone.

Listen To History: John Cassavetes portrays John Cameron Swayze as the news reporter covering the Zimmerman Telegraph, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, and Warren G Harding’s Death in a recreation of how network radio might have covered these events and what exactly is on sale for $6 here? What level of reality is in operation?

Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in the miscellaneous bin.

A disco cover of the themes to 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, The Gazebo, and A Face In The Crowd.

A bunch of interview clips the Beatles offered but stripped of all possible context.

The soundtrack to Midnight Cowpoke which turns out not to be the soundtrack to a porn film which would be bizarre enough but this leads to the discovery of “stag party records” that, okay, wait, they’re just music with women groaning? And this was a thing people were supposed to listen to in any context? Play this “sexciting” album in your car? Yes, we know car LP players were a thing but what? And they were still making these late enough in the day they could do an album riffing on aerobics? What the heck is the heck with this? What?

The cast of One Day At A Time sings the greatest hits of Motown.

A two-LP set of The Greatest Hits of Zager and Evans?

Haven’t got any idea what this is but it’s thick in a box of prog-rock covers so amazing I want to get a better look at it without making eye contact with the guy selling them because if I do he’s going to talk about them and I can’t have that much personal contact with someone can I?

A disco cover of the themes to 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Black Hole, 1941, and Klute.

Supertramp’s Breakfast In America in the Beatles bin.

The Fat Boys’ You Know, Only One Of Them Is Actually Kind Of Fat, The Most You Can Say About The Others Is They’re Slightly Chunky Or Maybe We’ve All Just Gotten Tubbier Since 1989.

Is it possible that Paul McCartney 80s singles are infinite and there is no most embarrassing one?

The Kinks debate approaching the conclusion that while it is impossible to define what exactly makes something a concept album, having a track subtitled “Part II”, “(Reprise)”, or “Entr’Acte” means you’ve got one.

How To Set Up Your Record Player, an instructional album that seems to present an impossible bootstrapping problem.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index dropped ten points today but then thought better of it and figured that just the one was sufficient.

127

The October 2015 Scraps File – with NaNoWriMo donations


Here’s some writing I couldn’t make good use of in October. If you think you can, you’re welcome to it. NaNoWriMo participants especially welcome to these chunks!

  • I’d say the worst Star Trek continuity error of all time has to be in naming the captain. One episode it’s ‘Kirk’, next one it’s ‘Picard’, next one it’s ‘Janeway’, next episode it’s ‘Christopher’ in some scenes and ‘Kirk’ in others for crying out loud. Then some episode it’s ‘Jack McCoy’ or ‘Dean Pelton’ or something ridiculous like ‘Jack Aubrey’. And nobody even points this out, maybe out of embarrassment we let the producers get away with this. — Scrapped because I’ve really been making mischief on TrekBBS too much lately.
  • wonder what this movie would be like if John Harker were a character in it. — Left over from me snarking about the 1931 Dracula, which I actually liked although yeah, the Spanish-language version was mostly better.
  • I ask you to refer all questions to — Cut when I realized I didn’t have anyone it sounded plausibly like could get the question. I should’ve made up a name.
  • yeah, I was just wrong all down the line there and I’m sorry — Cut because I was right and you know it.
  • chicks dig metaphors, chicks dig, d-i-g, metaphors. — Taken with barely any attribution from the song “Metaphor” by the band Sparks. Should probably talk to Ron and Russell Mael before using this yourselves, because Ron wrote it and he seems like an interesting person to talk to. Paul McCartney impersonated him briefly in one video back in the 80s, but I forget which one.
  • Hieronymous Thump. — Created to sound like a Funny Name that isn’t actually funny and maybe I could’ve paired it with that refer-all-questions-to thing.
  • yes, i can do that, that’s no problem (14 instances) — Should have cut about twelve more instances and then I would probably be better off.

Toying With Me


You know, ever since I heard of the Baader-Mainhof Phenomenon I’ve been seeing examples of it everywhere. Let me share one. You maybe remember not watching Barry Levinson’s 1992 magnum something Toys, in which Robin Williams struggles to remain Robin Williams while struggling against an oppressive reign of set designers. Certainly I remember thinking I wouldn’t go see it, preferring instead to wait for it to come to me and insist to be let into my life and maybe use the bathroom and make a phone call to get its car towed. Police warn about falling for this scam; in 2012 alone, the last year for which there are these kinds of statistics, Peter Chelsom’s Town and Country broke its way into over fourteen Long Island residences and made off with collectible foyer knick-knacks valued at over $3.50 each. This may not sound like much but remember there’s a lot of things, including guitars and the Large Hadron Collider, valued at over $3.50 each.

But when my love discovered the soundtrack to Toys was produced by Trevor Horn, whom you’ll remember as discovering that electronic smashing-piano sound that pops into mind right after the phrase “owner of a lonely heart” deep in a southeast Asian jungle and bringing to public awareness, and Hans Zimmer, who worked with the Buggles before they got famous. And the soundtrack has got “The Happy Workers”, a gorgeously bleak bit of dystopian New Wave tune that’s about the perfect song for lugging yourself to a pointless job of no imaginable purpose or reward. We were overcome by curiosity about where it fit into the movie and besides the DVD was in the $4.99 bin at Best Buy and I had a $5 gift certificate and was on the verge of weeping openly that there wasn’t anything I really wanted to buy, including candy bars, in the store. I had to buy the DVD and a candy bar lest I make the computers explode by buying a $4.99 item with a $5 gift certificate. Don’t ask; that just makes the floor manager crawl under the contract-free cell phone display and refuse to come out.

Anyway, as you might expect, this engagingly despairing song is for the cheery happy part of the early film where genuinely content workers go to their toy-making job of waiting for a giant plastic doll head to belch much smaller, fully-bodied dolls, which they then pick up and set back down. These are the 104th, 118th, and 98th most baffling minutes of the 121-minute film, respectively, though they are the 3rd, 9th, and 8th most baffling minutes that explicitly remind the viewer of Zardoz. I tweeted some of my impressions while it was going on and I’m still not sure what happened.

Anyway, since all that, I’ve been seeing the Toys soundtrack everywhere. One friend pointed out he did a thing years ago where you record scenes from a game like Myst and splice it together to make a music video to the songs from it, which apparently is a perfectly normal thing that people do that I never heard of before. He was happy to share it with me, although since it was a video I downloaded it to find out nothing would play it, so he re-coded it, and I could watch that, although the aspect ratio was all messed up, so instead of displaying at a 4:3 ratio, the video appeared in a psychedelic spiral projected across the belly of a Chinese dragon. I think it’s a Quicktime Pro setting, right beside ‘scatter little green dots like candy sprinkles in the uniformly-colored section’.

I just wrote that off as an odd coincidence fired by his hearing I saw the movie and was still decompressing, but then another friend who I don’t think noticed any of this posted his own video, using “At The Closing Of The Year”. That is a violently twee song used at the start of the movie for one of those elaborately-staged Christmas pageants toy companies put on because Paul McCartney dared Trevor Horn to create a song too precious to even listen to without kit gloves draped across your head, and Barry Levinson figured this was the perfect way to foreshadow how in the climax things would explode.

Nothing exploded in our friend’s video except our unjustified confidence that we lived in a world in which the Toys soundtrack would not suddenly leap out at us. But we’re recovering well enough while staying wary, waiting for the next bit of music to drop from a giant baby doll head, be picked up, and set back down.

Simply Having


If the Christmas season this year taught me one thing, it’s that the Christmas music channels on those oddball extremely high-numbered channels on the cable box have way more covers of Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” than I thought. I bet if you piled them up there’s easily five versions of that song out there. I wouldn’t have imagined there were more than three, tops.

If the season taught me two things, it’s that “Wonderful Christmastime” cover thing and that I was wise to buy physically smaller cards to send out to people this year. I had much less space to write to everybody on my list and so I was able to finish much more quickly, and without ever running into a sentence that made it clear I’ve forgotten how to make a capital “G” in cursive. Next year I’m going to have to see if they have even smaller cards yet, maybe something the size of a Tic Tac wrapper, with a fox or a squirrel on the front because foxes and squirrels are on the front of every Christmas card suddenly, and I’ll be able to write heartfelt messages like, “Dea M, Hpe this yr, Lv, J” and I can be done with all the card-writing before I remember to dread it.

If the season taught me three things, it’s that count of “Wonderful Christmastime” covers thing, the smaller-card thing, and that while I can eat my body weight in cookies and artichoke dip in a mere thirty-two hours, that’s not something I should be bragging about so please don’t tell anyone you heard I could do it. But I totally can.

I don’t even want to think about what four things might have been.

Is That Enough?


I got to thinking about how whenever you pile together Christmas songs that people hate Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” is invariably near the top of the heap. Often the only things listed as more annoying are novelty songs about how annoying Christmas is what with its agenda of hearth and home and security and generosity. But even if you do hate it, you know what the song is, which is a pretty impressive standing for Christmas songs written after 1965 by anyone but Rankin/Bass staff writers. Think of all the Christmas songs written in the past three decades that you can’t remember: you can’t, because I cleverly framed the debate by the rhetorical method of being a dirty cheater. Ha ha! But those new songs are still out there, waiting on the Modern Christmas music channels, keeping you away from the songs you have any chance of recognizing.

What I wonder is how Paul McCartney feels about writing nearly the last important addition to the Christmas song canon even though people only mention it to chant “no” in time with every synthesized note. Does, like, Ray Davis ever pop in to his place and say something like, “Oi! Good job stuffing the wireless full of your learning the buttons on your new Casio,” and then punch a wall because he heard Roger Daltrey had once leaned against it? And then Paul answers, “I know, lad, but we were on deadline so published before I had enough lines that were just pleasant syllables like ‘ding dong ding dong’ or ‘wo wo wo wo’ or what.” And then producer Trevor Horn waves a hand and emits some complicated sound, because he comes from the North of England, where the people have no language and communicate instead by a melodic series of intonations occasionally marked by the loan-words “howay” or “dou’t”. What he means is hey, he’s not responsible for the writing of “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, but that definitely postdates “Wonderful Christmastime” and people like listening to it enough to complain that yes, technically speaking, many people in Africa have a good idea when Christmas is but that’s missing the whole point of the song. They concede because it’s too hard to carry on the debate.

Still, I feel like there’s a problem with how hard it is getting a good new Christmas song going. I don’t think it’s a major problem, like crumbling infrastructure or the way my car needs some weird mutant cable to connect to an iPod, especially since there’s a vast reserve of forgotten Christmas songs from the 40s and 50s we can turn to if we need something different, but it’s a problem yet. Some of it I think is we’ve lost universal references; for example, it used to be most everyone could have, or plausibly have, snow on Christmas. But the population’s been moving to warmer territories ever since technology made it possible to ignore the Arizona state legislature behaving like that, and now the only thing songwriters can be confident will happen around Christmas is that people will be complaining about Christmas songs.

We don’t write songs that contain stories anymore, which might be a problem, since a lot of great Christmas songs are narrative ones, like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”, “Frosty the Snowman”, and I hear rumors there’s a third or fourth and maybe even a fifth. When I say “we” I mean “people who aren’t me”, for reasons that make sense when you consider my contributions to music mostly cause other people shake their heads sadly and pat me, assuring me that things will get better.

There are plenty of Christmas Song mood pieces, like “Winter Wonderland” or and here I want to mention “Silver Bells” but my love hates that song so let’s just move on to the rest of the list, and our songwriters certainly know how to write that these days. For example, Walk The Moon has done very well with an anthemic song about the house falling apart, and OK Go is similarly successful with the idea that there’ll be a morning coming. If they joined forces they could surely paint a picture of how when the house arrives, morning will fall apart. This is good but it isn’t very Christmas-y so maybe I just figured out what the problem was. Sorry for the bother of working this out in public.

Statistics Saturday: Your Christmas Songs Schedule


Day Song Status
December 14 Complaining about “Santa Baby”.
December 15 That friend who tells you every Halloween how Frankenstein isn’t properly the name of the creature decides everyone has to know if you don’t sing “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” so it’s suicidally depressing you’re doing it wrong, again.
December 16 Sole annual appearance of “Chrissy, The Christmas Mouse” on any of the twelve Christmas music channels available to you. You miss it.
December 17 “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” makes people think about Bill Cosby, feel even worse.
December 18 Attempt at making a news-media satirical song out of “Walking In A Winter Wonderland” gets as far as “In The Meadow We Can Build A Newsman, And Pretend That He Is Aaron Brown” before running out of creative inspiration and being abandoned until next year, when it doesn’t get any father, again.
December 19 Complaining about “Wonderful Christmastime”.
December 20 That same friend gets on about how nobody remembers Walt Kelly’s “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie” except Gasoline Alley and who reads Gasoline Alley anymore except him and even he doesn’t like it exactly.
December 21 Complaining that “My Favorite Things” is not at all a Christmas song and shouldn’t even be on this list.
December 22 Boy is Mitch Mitchell slamming you to the ground and shoving merriness down your throat.
December 23 “All I Want For Christmas” reminds you of Spike Jones, but not why that friend keeps going on about his genius.
December 24 Realize there’s this lick in “Do They Know It’s Christmas” that sounds like they’re welcoming Christmas to the Pleasuredome.
December 25 “Silent Night” way overproduced.
December 26 Everyone remembers melody of “Good King Wenceslas”, not anything else about it, including words or why anyone would sing it, but you somehow spell it correctly while trying to look it up.
December 27 Hey, did they play the Kinks’ “Father Christmas” at all this year?

Statistics Saturday: The Forgotten Days


The most popular forgotten days of the week:

  1. Bragiday (traditional day for the complaining about the poetry of others)
  2. Hellinsday (traditional day for doctor’s appointments and hacky jokes about hospital gift shops)
  3. Tuesday (except in its two-fer form)
  4. Meimeirsday (good for running about like one’s head had been cut off; removed by the Council of Nicaea and put aside “for Miss Manners”)
  5. Sagasday (nobody knows when this was)
  6. Ransday (day of the sea and/or misunderstood Paul McCartney albums)
  7. Wednesday (the remake; lost in the 1922 calendar reboot)
  8. Gefjunday (position in the week given away to Bragiday, then left in the back of the closet until it was forgotten)
  9. Hoenirsday (no records of it, sorry)
  10. Voersday (traditional day for realizing what you should have said instead; in French, le jour d’escalier, the day for remembering one should have pushed someone down the escalator)

Statistics Saturday: Mean Time Between Paul McCartney


Here is a quick reference guide to how long you can expect to go between references to something written by or featuring Sir Paul McCartney:

Location Time
The 60s ratio station 18 minutes
The 70s radio station 17 minutes
The 80s radio station 34 minutes, but it’s going to be “Spies Like Us” distressingly often
NewsRadio 88 46 hours
Any given episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 54 minutes
The 50s radio station There are no 50s radio stations anymore
Foreign currency exchange markets 12 minutes (!)
Dave Davies’s house Once per year, as in late March he figures to write an April Fool’s e-mail to Ray Davies saying Paul invited him on tour because nobody else can sing “Death Of A Clown” right, only he has to delete the unsent e-mail because once again this year he hasn’t got Ray Davies’s e-mail
As Wake-Up Music On The International Space Station 4 days
Commercials Supporting The Existence Of Banks Surprisingly short
Those tiny toy music boxes at the museum gift shop Continuous until the cashiers go mad

Customs of the Goldfish


Some of the many customs of the goldfish:

  1. Grabbing a flake of food in the mouth and waddling around shaking it out to show off to everyone until everyone explains that they aren’t all that impressed by grabbing flakes of food, until you find out it’s rock candy.
  2. Calling up Glenn Beck just to make fun of him. (Not unique to the goldfish community.)
  3. Tri-dimensional do-si-dos. Or do-si-does. It includes some argument about what the plural of do-si-do is, anyway.
  4. Writing new lyrics to classic Paul McCartney songs and proclaiming them far better than what he produced for, say, “Freedom”.
  5. Explaining these freaky games they had of SimCity 2000 where they built the whole city without any roads or rails or this one time on Civilization II where they conquered the entire world, several continents worth, without ever building a ship because some city on a neighboring continent overthrew its rulers and joined their empire and they bought their way into world domination that way until everybody else in the pond loses patience.
  6. Talking about the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode “The Giant Spider Invastion”, with everybody in it explaining the guy who says “You been hittin’ the BOOZE again” also played the Klingon judge in Star Trek VI like any of them don’t remember it.